Family of 8 on 1 month road trip adventure?

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Scott 3

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Make a stop at one or more of the beaches between Pensacola and the Panama City area. I think they are the best beaches in the country.

Florida has a number of clear water springs that are great for swimming, kayaking, etc. I would camp near one or more of these springs.
 

HappyWanderer

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I grew up as one of six kids roaming about the country in a pop up towed a Country Squire station wagon. And that was a 1960s era trailer.

I kinda feel bad for folks who haven’t had this type of experience.
 

Jkoht

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I grew up as one of six kids roaming about the country in a pop up towed a Country Squire station wagon. And that was a 1960s era trailer.

I kinda feel bad for folks who haven’t had this type of experience.
I totally agree with this. Even after my wife and I got our own travel trailer a few years ago last year I couldn't pass up an awesome deal on a 1996 dutchmen pop up. Growing up in a family of 6 traveling the country with a dutchmen was some of the best memories in my life. We never felt like we were lacking any of the essentials. The 12 foot box dutchmen was about 25 feet end to end when set up. A king bed on one end for 3 kids, a full on the other for my parents, and two dinette areas that could both be made into beds meant a great bed for one single person. I miss rolling into the campground and everyone unloading and doing their assigned task. We got really good at set up and tear down.
 

JudyJB

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One thing is that this family has a lot of very small children. They could sleep 3 in a queen bed. I remember my cousins visiting us when we were young. My girl cousin and I slept in a single bed, head to foot. The three younger boys slept in a double bed. And in this family, the baby will have to be in a portable crib, so only five kids need beds. And I'll bet they have a toddler who could sleep in the dinette bed.

Also, you might want to get a large screen tent with a floor to put outside so the kids have a bug-free place to play during the day. Kids are too young to be in their own tent, but having some contained outside play room will keep the chaos out of the trailer.
 

Camerong

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LooseNut, Happy Wanderer, and Jkoht—exactly! Thanks for the encouragement.

Scott, thanks for the idea! I have identified very few spots between Nebraska and GA, so that’s the kind of suggestions that I need.

Judy, yes, I had thought about the outdoor screened-in tent. I’m envisioning mornings off sitting in a (portable) rocking chair holding kids right after they wake up, and had thought we would leave those chairs under the tent, for a few-free morning! And then a nice picnic blanket for kids…
 

Loose Nut

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Not sure of your exact route, but there are nice lakes in the Ozarks and eastern Oklahoma, all of them have camping and RV parks. Some nice show caves in the Ozarks too... and if you're dropping down to the Gulf Coast, check out the USS Alabama Memorial in Mobile, plenty of parking there in a pretty secure area, outside of town and right on the Gulf. I'm thinking there probably aren't too many battleships to be seen in Nebraska, lol... I don't remember any from my "trucking daze." I would suggest a boat ride or two along the way, that's something else your kids might enjoy, although you have to keep marine safety in mind, especially with really young children. PFDs are legally required for kids in most states, so be sure any boat rental place is up to speed that way. I say this as a lifelong 'extreme small craft sailor' and explorer, lol.

I'd like to make another suggestion, and I say this as a former OTR truck driver: use larger truck stops for refueling purposes, they have separate fuel islands for cars, vans, trucks, RVs, etc., and there's generally more room to maneuver on their larger lots. Plus the bigger truck stops (or travel plazas, as they're now called, since they cater to RVers and other travelers too) are more likely to have security, better lighting at night, more choices in the store or restaurant, more stalls in the bathrooms, all that good stuff. Maybe you won't be traveling at night, I'm just sayin'... and the fuel prices at the larger truck stops can't be beat, they'll be as low as any competition, if not lower. Your (supervised or chaperoned) kids can check out the truck stops too, some of them are pretty cool.

As for other practical suggestions, well, don't forget barf bags for any kids who might get carsick... I still clearly remember my brother Aidan throwing up in a plastic bag while we were on one of our European tours. Right there in the crowded VW Bus, with 10 others watching, lol... ah, yes, those were the days. Some snacks and a cooler for beverages would also be good, you might even buy a thermoelectric cooler that plugs into a lighter jack, those work fine for your purposes and you can store sandwich material, fresh milk, juices, etc., in that cooler---another way to save money. I'm not sure if 'p!ss jugs' would be practical in your situation, use rest areas for that purpose, easy off and easy back on the road. Saves time, ya know? And those kids can stretch their legs a bit, which never hurts.

Okey-dokey, that's all I wanted to add, hopefully you can factor in that info and make your trip a little easier, 10-4? I gave all of my nieces & nephews (20 of them, and now some have kids) the same advice when it comes to ground travel, it's generally safer and the kids get to see some cool rigs too... some of those 'show trucks' are nice, all decked out with chrome and chicken lights, lol. A separate reality for many of my friends and family back on the coast, but still cool, aye? Another site member made a good point, you have half a dozen young kids with you, so overall safety is a factor in your expedition, and I say this as a hand who has seen more than his share of bad neighborhoods and industrial ghettos, lol. Meh, you'll have a good time, think of it as one big adventure!!! CHEERS!!!

P.S. Not to be crude, but my motto when using any public toilet is 'NO SURFACE CONTACT'---just another tip from this seasoned traveler, lol. Not only am I the sole man alive to have sailed a 14' Laser to Los Coronados and landed on all four islands, spending the night at the summits of two, but I'm also known in my own small circle as the crazy fool who sailed a 12' Minifish the length of the Salton Sea, roughly 30 nautical miles right down the centerline of that bad boy. Problem there was: the entire lake is one foul agricultural sump, with heinous shoals of rotting fishbones along the lakeshore. The fish expire in massive "die-offs" caused by algae blooms which deprive the water of oxygen... and the funky ag chemicals don't help much either. Try not to pick such a venue for your boat rides with the kids, lol.
 
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JudyJB

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Tip: Do not teach your kids how to open the refrigerator door. (You have to squeeze the handle, etc.) RV propane/electric refrigerators take a long time to get cool, so you don't want a lot of little people opening the door constantly. Get a large cooler and put ice in it and all drinks and snacks.

And with all those kids, you will need to supervise toilet paper use or they will stuff the toilet full, and you will have big problems. I know this from my grandchildren when they were small.
 

Camerong

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Thanks! Good tips on littles in the RV. Child locks…

Question: since we will be leaving in January in Nebraska, I assume the RV will need to be winterized to start the trip until we get south enough. And we would just use campground facilities solely until we get there. I’m hoping to have two long days to start out, so we get into non-freezing low temps on the evening of day 2.

Does that make sense? Is there something different we should do?
 

Rene T

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Call ahead to campgrounds to make sure they are open. Most of them in cold climates close down for the winter.
 

Scott 3

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I would get a KOA membership. A lot of KOAs are open all year. You can plan your daily drive from one to the next. The kids can use the playgrounds, often times rec centers and possibly pools.

I would go South through TX and LA or Southeast through Arkansas. Watch the 10 day forecasts for freezing temps particularly overnight when temps can plummet. For us, we leave winterized and usually dewinterize in South Carolina. TX, AR, TN may be warm enough depending on the air mass. Significant freezes can hit all the way down to Orlando so watch the forecasts. We flush with gallon jugs of water (not a gallon per flush) if we are winterized. The black tank shouldn't be a freeze issue but you can pour some RV antifreeze down there to make sure. Some may say to dewinterize at home but if temps are low enough the plumbing will be exposed while you are driving.
 

Mark_K5LXP

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I would approach it with the idea that failure is an option, with contingency plans at the ready. So you forge ahead with the idea that a particular stop would be spent in the camper/tents, but if it's 6 degrees out that night you have a backup plan at a nearby hotel. Not every day of a month long trip across a couple thousand miles will have horrible weather, so odds are Plan B will not be exercised often. If you make a hard and fast plan that everything "must" be done a certain way, place and time that's when you'll end up leaving the pavement. But if you're flexible and have alternate routes, stops and accommodations in mind plus can think on the fly you'll have the makings for a fun and interesting trip. In a past life I took cross country motorcycle trips with no further planning than a full tank of gas and a tent. Sometimes it was picture postcard perfect, other times I got soaked but at no time did I ever have to turn around because I ran out of options.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
 
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Camerong

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Thanks again everyone. We went and looked at TTs today. Our vehicle will have tow rating of 8,700 and hitch of 870. How big of a trailer (dry weight, length) should be our max? I understood between 1,000 and 1,500 lbs for load out above dry weight? Should we get as big of a trailer as we can fit? I’m pretty a comfortable with large trailers, but have never spent a month towing something like this…

I think we are looking between 32 and 37 feet with one to two slide outs, depending on if we get a separate bunk room or not.
 

Scott 3

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There are a lot of invaluable posts on this site about tow vehicles and trailers. You should research carefully. You should work with max weight of the trailer and not the dry weight. You need to know the cargo capacity of your vehicle. Make sure you include all passengers, bags, car seats, etc in determining your weight load in the vehicle besides the hitch and trailer Over 30' may be long for your vehicle.

DO NOT LET THE SALESPERSON TELL YOU WHAT YOUR VEHICLE CAN TOW!!!!
 

Oldgator73

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Stay within about 80% of what your vehicles tow rating is. So about 7000lbs.
 

Camerong

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Thanks, Scott. I had researched this and not read about using the GVWR. I do think I understand generally how towing capacities work--I've considered the weight I'm adding (and taking out by removing seats) to the van, etc. And it looks like the GVWR of the trailers I am looking at are about 2,000 lbs more than the dry weight, so using the GVWR is just maybe 500 lbs more conservative than what I was assuming. I plan on weighing the vehicle and trailer loaded. And don't worry, I would not ask towing advice from a salesperson.

I guess the question I mean to ask is not what can my vehicle handle--I'm buying a whole different vehicle as a result of towing capacity--but what size of trailer actually makes sense for us? With a lot of kids for a long time, it seems like we should go as big as we can. But is driving a 37' so much more difficult than, say, a 30' that it becomes exhausting? Would it jostle around the vehicle and make travel uncomfortable? Are there campsites or boondock locations I will have trouble getting in and out of with the largest possible trailer?
 

SeilerBird

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"But is driving a 37' so much more difficult than, say, a 30' that it becomes exhausting?"

i prefer driving the 37'. I had a 30 foot DP for a year and I really loved driving it. Nothing but pleasure. I particularly love the giant rear view mirrors. Makes backing up a piece of cake.

I should remind you that you six kids are only going to gain weight and possession, they will all end up being teenagers in a few years. So buying something that suits you today could be an expensive mistake.
 

Camerong

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"But is driving a 37' so much more difficult than, say, a 30' that it becomes exhausting?"

i prefer driving the 37'. I had a 30 foot DP for a year and I really loved driving it. Nothing but pleasure. I particularly love the giant rear view mirrors. Makes backing up a piece of cake.

I should remind you that you six kids are only going to gain weight and possession, they will all end up being teenagers in a few years. So buying something that suits you today could be an expensive mistake.
SeilerBird, I'm sorry, but I don't understand this at all. I may have confused things by saying "driving a 37'", when I meant "towing a 37'" I haven't come across a travel trailer with a steering wheel yet :)
 

SeilerBird

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SeilerBird, I'm sorry, but I don't understand this at all. I may have confused things by saying "driving a 37'", when I meant "towing a 37'" I haven't come across a travel trailer with a steering wheel yet :)
This reminds me of when I was an auto mechanic. Someone would bring me their car and tell me to rebuild the carburetor. So I would rebuild it and then the customer would bring the car back to me and complain that it still wasn't running properly. The customer didn't tell me that he wanted me to fix a problem with the car that was not running properly, he diagnosed the problem himself and decided that the carburetor was the problem. He didn't ask me to fix the problem of the car not running right, he told me to rebuild the carb. The same principal applies here. You have to say exactly what you really mean To get the proper reply.

And to answer your question, yes, a 37 footer would be more difficult to tow due to the much larger sides means a much larger sail area which can be affected by wind and passing semis.

My fifth wheel has a steering wheel. It is used in driving video games for my PS3 video games.:D
 
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